Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is everything its predecessor, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was, only ten times better but its technical shortcomings will be discussed far more than noteworthy virtues.
What you need to know:
- What is it? A semi-open-world action adventure set in the Star Wars universe
- Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment
- Release date: April 28, 2023
- Available on: PC , PlayStation 5 , Xbox Series X|S
After about 40 hours of cruising from planet to planet in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor , encountering innumerable stormtroopers, droids, raiders, and friendly and not-so-friendly individuals, I can say that my feelings vary from being very impressed to being very disappointed in the game that I've been so eager to play.
But don't get me wrong; my disappointment is only on account of the game's performance, not the game itself. So, I cannot help but wonder how such a perfect game with an epic story, entertaining gameplay beyond measure, flawless fighting mechanics, and traversal mechanics can run so poorly with a wide range of issues like textures that won't load, framerate drops in every more difficult portion of the map, and a host of other technical issues?
So why the grim face at the very introduction of this review? Because Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is such a great game, it could be, without any doubt, the Game of the Year contender if not for those technical issues that make it a really hard recommendation.
If those issues get ironed out over the next couple of weeks, we could easily say that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is everything that its predecessor, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was, only ten times better. Everything that was great in Fallen Order is now even greater; everything Fallen Order failed to deliver, Survivor delivered big time.
Perhaps the biggest step up Survivor made was regarding its narrative. I can admit that I was rather dubious about the Survivor story because of what I had learned from the previous game. Since Fallen Order's story was so very basic and superficial, I really wasn't anticipating a complex narrative. I'm so glad I was convinced otherwise.
The story of Survivor picks up five years after the events of the original story, following Cal Kestis once again, only this time his old crew has been dismembered and, instead of a frightened little boy, Cal has now grown into a very strong and very capable Jedi knight who fights against the tyranny of the Empire however he can.
This fight will lead him to the discovery that somewhere in the galaxy, beyond the abyss, there is a hidden planet that neither the Empire nor anyone else is aware of, and it will become his obsession to finally find a place where the Jedi will be able to dwell without constantly looking over their shoulders.
The very premise of the story is nothing new, to be perfectly honest, but the way it is told is simple on another level. The quality of Survivor's story is not in its premise but rather in Cal's inner fights and fears: is he doing things as he should? Is he following the Jedi path straight? Will this fight turn him into the very person he is so eager to fight against? Will he have the strength to endure everything that must be overcome in order to reach the final objective, and are the sacrifices that must be made worth them?
These and many other questions that arise as the story unfolds will make the story of Survivor so deep that I will not overexaggerate when I say that the story of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor can compete, if not win, the competition for the best story in the entire Star Wars universe, including movies, TV shows, and video games.
Apart from those deep, even philosophical aspects, the story will feature very good character development, where you will seriously feel how Cal has grown during those past five years, from a mere boy who was so afraid to fill up the big inherited Jedi shoes to a fierce warrior who is not afraid of anything. And trust me, this strength is not just for shows; you will feel it in action.
When I already bring up those five years, it is important to note that the writers did a wonderful and effective job of explaining what transpired during that time that is not covered by the story, both through the so-called "Sense Echoes" and through a few cutscenes in the form of recollections. I should also add something very significant about the plot: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor's journey will also be enhanced by a love story. However, I won't say anything else to avoid giving anything away.
Regarding gameplay mechanics Star Wars Jedi: Survivor follows an already tried-and-true recipe that has been well demonstrated by its predecessor, with the simple rule: "Don't fix what isn't broken." So everything the developers did in terms of gameplay was to improve upon already great mechanics from Fallen Order, adding very useful detail to the combat system, making platforming and traversal in general even more fun and intuitive than they were before, and improving the overall game in general.
The gameplay in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor can be divided into three categories: combat, platforming, and gathering collectables, and each one deserves a separate explanation.
Compared to the prior game, the fighting system has undergone a true Renaissance. With the addition of five new stances, combat is still smooth and fairly intuitive. Although, to be completely honest, when the stances for Survivor were revealed, I had hoped for more variations on the Ghost of Tsushima model. Stances in Survivor are only different variations of the lightsaber and have nothing to do with a real stance. One of the stances will even allow Cal to loosen up some of the rigid Jedi laws by allowing him to use bluster, a weapon no Jedi has ever used before, but in times of difficulty, drastic means are necessary, right?
Different foes will demand varied strategies to defeat them, and in these situations, lightsaber stances will shine the brightest. Therefore, Cal will use a double-blade stance to overcome a larger number of enemies, and the crossguard stance will be an option if he wants his lightsaber to deal more damage. The main issue with stances is that you can only use two at a time, and if you want to attempt a different stance, you must change it on the meditation point.
Apart from the use of a lightsaber, Cal also relies on his force abilities in combat, which can be easily combined together, making it even more creative. The use of the force in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is now more advanced than before. Apart from the simple push and pull abilities, Cal can now use mind control abilities to make the enemies fight at his side or use the lift or slum abilities to control the crowd with his force.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor features some RPG elements as well, so for defeating enemies or discovering something new in the world, the game will award you with experience points. Once you have enough XP points, you will be able to buy the new skills on the meditation spot. Those skills are divided into three categories: Survival, Lightsaber, and Force, and each category has its own subcategories. The skill system has also received substantial improvements from the previous game, with many more skills now accessible to unlock.
The fighting itself is really slick and a genuine treat after you learn all of the various tactics. Cutting objects with a lightsaber while hearing an actual buzzing sound is a truly unique experience. In addition to a new faction named the Bedlam Raiders, your main enemies are still the stormtroopers, soldiers that serve the Empire. Additionally, there are mandatory Star Wars creatures and optional bosses in the form of bounty-hunting mechanics. Don't forget that Survivor is a soul-like game, just like its predecessor, so there are also souls mechanics present in the form of enemies that can be reset and meditation points.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor definitely shines when it comes to exploration. You may unlock a ton of different items by collecting them throughout the game, and these collectables mostly relate to the cosmetic upgrades for the main character and his tiny droid BD-1, followed by his lightsaber and other weapons he carries. In addition to cosmetics, you can enhance your character's health, use of the Force, and vital Jedi memories, which will add an additional layer to the story. There are also so-called "Force Tears," in which Cal must fight a slew of different enemies or engage in some fascinating platforming challenges in order to complete them.
Let me not forget to mention that in Survivor, you will have companions that will assist you in the fight in certain sections of the game and whom you will be able to order when to attack your opponents. This, along with many other elements, reminds me a little of the last God of War titles, and I can only admire the developers for how brilliantly they implemented these mechanics in the Star Wars game.
Additionally, your journey on the planet Koboh will take you to a little settlement with a canteen run by an old acquaintance of Cal's. There, you'll have the chance to converse with the characters you've met on your journey. The canteen will operate as a sort of base where you can relax with activities like gardening or stocking your aquarium with fish. Also, the majority of the side quests will be triggered from this canteen base.
And just one more thing: the game is so packed with extra content that even if I tried my hardest to list everything else that can be done in Survivor, I would surely forget something.
In Survivor, the traversal, or, should I say, platforming, is also really excellent. Later in the game, Cal will get skills like the Jedi flip, which, when paired with a wall run and dush, would almost let him soar through the air. In these parts, simple traversal principles will change into true platforming. Some of these combined mechanics will be required to solve some very intuitive platforming puzzles, which will be yet another nice addition to an already content-rich gameplay.
Graphics and Sounds
If not for the technical difficulties, which are unfortunately severe in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, we could be talking about a truly graphically impressive game. From a visual point of view, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is really something. All those modern graphical settings like ray tracing, advanced lighting, and the use of particle effects, even on PlayStation 5 performance mode, make Star Wars Jedi: Survivor a real visual treat.
The developers clearly spent a lot of time and effort developing details and animations, particularly in the fight sequences. Thus, Cal may occasionally bump his neck while travelling, especially in desert areas, perhaps in an effort to kill some insects. Such tiny details significantly increase the realism of the game.
The level design is also very good and makes you feel like you are truly inside the real Star Wars universe. Six distinct planets with various architectural styles will be accessible to you. So, on Koboh, you'll find vast areas covered in vegetation, jungles, and swamps; on Jedha, a desert; and on the opening planet of the game, Coruscant, a cyberpunk design.
But regrettably, the instant you step foot on the Koboh planet's open world, all that beauty, perfection, and visual display disappear into thin air. Textures that don't load, the framerate drops to the point of unplayability, and the changes in the resolution, most likely in an attempt to stabilize the framerate, will, in a matter of seconds, turn Star Wars Jedi: Survivor from beautiful eye candy to a technically underdeveloped disappointment.
All of these issues will be patched up eventually in the near future, but it pains me to know that I will be forced to lower the grade of an otherwise nearly perfect Star Wars video game due to technical difficulties that could easily be avoided if developers simply decided to give it a little more time to polish everything up.
The sounds, on the other hand, are very good and authentic. Here, the composers didn't need to create anything from scratch. Otherwise, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor features the same lovely music that is used in all other Star Wars titles. I've already praised the lightsaber's realistic sound, but I want to draw attention to something else that has to do with music: one of the in-game collectables will be music tracks that you can later give to a droid inside the canteen to play, and as long as you are inside the canteen, the selected song will play. I can say that each song is memorable on its own and that they are really well written.
To put it simply, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a game that took everything that was wonderful about the Fallen Order and magnified it 10 times. Then it removed anything that didn't work and added certain elements that were based on some immensely popular games in the same genre. When everything is combined, you get a fantastic Star Wars action adventure that will satisfy both Star Wars enthusiasts and non-fans as well.
Unfortunately, there is a significant "but" in this situation. The game, at least in terms of single-player action adventures, could without a doubt contend for the title of "best game of the year" if it were technically not so problematic. So, if you're not in a rush, my advice is to wait for the game to be further polished so that you may fully appreciate this amazing Star Wars experience.